Friday, August 22, 2014

Ocean 'acidification' alarmists at work

A comment today on a prior post "New paper finds no evidence of ocean 'acidification' in upper Santa Monica Bay" claimed that collection of additional data since the paper was published does show "a statistically significant trend in surface pH, calculated from additional data which extended to 2013. The pH values in the top meter had been decreasing by about 0.003 per year.":
Comment today: I interviewed Anita Leinweber [author of the paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research] for an article I wrote for The Catalina Marine Society. At the time of the study’s publication, no statistically significant linear trends had emerged in the upper 100 meters. But this past April (2014), Leinwebier saw a statistically significant trend in surface pH, calculated from additional data which extended to 2013. The pH values in the top meter had been decreasing by about 0.003 per year. (Calculations were not yet complete for other depths.) 
My article: California's Corrosive Ocean,, p. 3
The article links to the data which supposedly shows a statistically significant "acidification" in surface pH, but plotting the data instead shows a very noisy dataset indicative of calibration problems with the pH meter, and a non-significant ~0.2 increase or alkalinization of pH:

Ocean 'alkalinization' in Santa Monica Bay
The data clearly does not support the claim of any statistically-significant decrease of pH or 'acidification'. However, it does illustrate that ocean pH routinely changes 0.5 pH units [50% change in H+ protons] or more over the course of a single day, much larger than the claimed "acidification" of 0.1 pH units from pH 8.2 to 8.1 over the past 150 years of industrialization. There is no reliable global ocean data demonstrating any change in pH due to the increase in atmospheric CO2; this claim is largely based upon very sparse data and models. If the oceans are warming, CO2 solubility decreases per Henry's Law, thus limiting the potential of "acidification" from an increase of CO2. 

The data also illustrates that pH meters require constant calibration and have surprisingly large measurement uncertainties. That's why there is an open $2 million dollar X-prize competition to develop an ocean pH meter to accurately, affordably, and efficiently measure ocean pH:

X-Prize $2 million pH sensor challenge
The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a $2 million global competition that challenges teams of engineers, scientists and innovators from all over the world to create pH sensor technology that will affordably, accurately and efficiently measure ocean chemistry from its shallowest waters… to its deepest depthsLearn more about the competition.
There is no reliable evidence that global ocean pH is falling, and this Santa Monica Bay data certainly does not support the alarmist claims of "California's corrosive oceans."


New paper finds no evidence of ocean 'acidification' in upper Santa Monica Bay

A new paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds no evidence of ocean "acidification" in the upper 100 meters of the Santa Monica Bay from bi-weekly observations over the past six years. According to the authors, "No statistically significant linear trends emerge in the [biologically significant] upper 100 meters." 

Key points from prior posts on ocean "acidification":

A. Leinweber, N. Gruber

Abstract: We investigate the temporal variability and trends of pH and of the aragonite saturation state, Ωarag, in the southern California Current System on the basis of a 6 year timeseries from Santa Monica Bay, using bi-weekly observations of dissolved inorganic carbon and combined calculated and measured alkalinity. Median values of pH and Ωarag in the upper 20 m are comparable to observations from the subtropical gyres, but the temporal variability is at least a factor of 5 larger, primarily driven by short-term upwelling events and mesoscale processes. Ωarag and pH decrease rapidly with depth, such that the saturation horizon is reached already at 130 m, on average, but it occasionally shoals to as low as 30 m. No statistically significant linear trends emerge in the upper 100 m, but Ωarag and pH decrease, on average, at rates of -0.009 ± 0.006 yr-1 and -0.004 ± 0.003 yr-1 in the 100 to 250 m depth range. These are somewhat larger, but not statistically different from the expected trends based on the recent increase in atmospheric CO2. About half of the variability in the deseasonalized data can be explained by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with warm phases (El Niño) being associated with above normal pH and Ωarag. The observed variability and trend in Ωarag and pH is well captured by a multiple linear regression model on the basis of a small number of readily observable independent variables. This permits the estimation of these variables for related sites in the region.


  1. pH is highly non-linear physics, ref well known buffer solutions. Ocean pH blocked close to 7 is a superb buffer solution.
    So any claim "a la IPCC" is only fun for ignorant newsmen.
    By the way, this month's "Climatlogists' Grand'Messe" showed how much this sect becomes totally irrealistic, predicting worse and worse catastrophic drama, except only one: The Great Laugh that mankind will enjoy in less than two (cold) decades, enearthing AGW for ever, as well the 2-3 $trillion wasted for nothing.

  2. squid2112 | August 23, 2014 at 9:51 am |

    You do realize that you could dissolve 100% of the atmospheric CO2 into the oceans and you would be hard pressed to measure a change in pH, don’t you?

    Less than 3m of ocean contain more CO2 than all of the atmosphere above it, and the average depth of our oceans is 4km! Our oceans contain more than 4000x’s the concentration of CO2 than our atmosphere, and are buffered by millions of square miles of limestone and other carbon absorbing minerals. This “Ocean Acidification” nonsense is a non-starter and simply displays utter ignorance of the fools touting it.

  3. DOWNLOAD my ESEF Vol. 1 Chapter (PDF approx. 200 kbytes):

    Segalstad, T. V. 1996: The distribution of CO2 between atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere; minimal influence from anthropogenic CO2 on the global "Greenhouse Effect". In Emsley, J. (Ed.): The Global Warming Debate. The Report of the European Science and Environment Forum. Bourne Press Ltd., Bournemouth, Dorset, U.K. (ISBN 0952773406), pp. 41-50.
    DOWNLOAD my ESEF Vol 2 Chapter (PDF approx. 500 kbytes):

    Segalstad, T. V. 1998: Carbon cycle modelling and the residence time of natural and anthropogenic atmospheric CO2: on the construction of the "Greenhouse Effect Global Warming" dogma. In Bate, R. (Ed.): Global warming: the continuing debate. ESEF, Cambridge, U.K. (ISBN 0952773422), pp. 184-219.